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Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas” – An Appreciation

JimHillMedia welcomes Ian Westhoff as a new guest columnist, and his debut column will certainly strike a chord with Disney movie fans around the world: a true appreciation of one very odd … but much beloved … Henry Selick film.



‘Twas a long time ago, several years in fact
When we first met our skeleton friend Jack

Er, sorry, but I always seem to get so passionate whenever I start to talk about “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” and before I know it, I’m rhyming like Dr. Seuss, which makes sense in a way, since it was the creative rhyming style of the good doctor that helped inspire Tim Burton to write the original poem “The Nightmare Before Christmas” while working as an animator for the Walt Disney Corporation.

But, before we get into that, let’s delve a little deeper into the background of Tim Burton and the time he spent at Disney. Born August 25, 1958 in Burbank, Ca, home to some of California’s most well known movie studios, Tim spent his childhood drawing, watching horror movies, and idolizing Vincent Price. In 1976, at the age of eighteen, he won a scholarship to the legendary art school Cal Arts.

Formed in 1961 through the merging of the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music and The Chouinard Art Institute, as well as with the help of Lulu May Von Hagen and both Walt and Roy Disney, the schools purpose was to offer students degrees in art, film, video, music, theatre and dance. In 1975 the school was blessed with a $14 million endowment by the Walt Disney Estate to help set up a program, taught by the creative talent of Disney animators and lay out artists, to help train animation students. At the end of each year the students would show a review board of Disney artists a film they had made, and depending on these films, would be recruited to be a Disney animator.

It was this program that Tim Burton entered, and for the next three years would spend his time learning the art of animation. In 1979 he would be recruited into the ranks of Disney animators thanks to his short film “Stalk of the Celery Monster.”

Once in Disney’s employ Tim was assigned to animator Glen Keane where he worked on “The Fox and The Hound.” He soon found himself working as a conceptual artist turning out creative ideas for “The Black Cauldron” alongside future Disney animator Andreas Deja, as well as for a Halloween themed special titled “Trick or Treat.”

Even though “Trick or Treat” was never made and none of Tim’s concepts made it into “The Black Cauldron,” Burton’s art work spoke out to people, despite the obvious fact that his style was vastly different from Disney’s, and thanks to people like Tom Wilhite and Julie Hickson, Tim was given the opportunity to broaden his horizons with the short “Vincent.”

“Vincent” is a five minute black and white stop motion film about a young boy named Vincent Malloy, (who looks a lot like a young Tim Burton), who dreams he is Vincent Price by acting out scenes from his movies. The story is narrated in rhyme, like a Dr. Seuss story, by none other than Tim Burton’s childhood hero Vincent Price, and was based off a poem he had originally planned on releasing as a children’s book. (Years later Burton would publish a book of short tales and poems about a handful of macabre characters titled “The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories” similar to Edward Gorey’s “The Gashlycrumb Tinies.”)

“Vincent” was released theatrically for two weeks alongside the Matt Dillon drama “Tex.” It also played in several film festivals, winning two awards in Chicago as well as the Critics Prize at the Annecy Film Festival in France before being condemned to the Disney vaults.

Tim next directed a live action version of “Hansel and Gretel” starring an all Japanese cast for the then still forming Disney Channel. It was around this time that he began to develop “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” His next assignment for Disney would also be his last directing chore for them until 1994 when Touchstone Pictures would put out “Ed Wood.”

“Frankenweenie” retells the tale of James Whale’s “Frankenstein” and “The Bride of Frankenstein” with the typical Tim Burton twist. Set in the modern day “Frankenweenie” tells how a young Victor Frankenstein brings his dog Sparky back to life after being hit by a car.

The short starred Barret Oliver, Daniel Stern, and Shelly Duvall (who would later hire Burton to direct an episode for her Faerie Tale Theatre on the cable channel Showtime. The episode he made was “Aladdon and his Wonderful Lamp” and starred Robert Carradine as Aladdin, James Earl Jones as the genie of the lamp, and Leonard Nimoy as the evil magician).

Originally set to be released with “The Jungle Book” for its 1984 summer re-release, FRANKENWEENIE got pushed back until Christmas for the re-release of “Pinocchio,” but due to its PG rating the film found its home in the Disney vaults alongside “Vincent,” being released only in the United Kingdom with the release of Touchstone Pictures “Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend” in 1985.

With his departure from Disney Tim Burton began to make a name for himself directing hit after hit for Warner Brothers with “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure” in 1985, “Beetlejuice” in 1988, the 1989 summer mega-blockbuster “Batman,” and “Edward Scissorhands” in 1990 for Twentieth Century Fox.

With his thoughts returning every so often to his “The Nightmare Before Christmas” concept, Tim Burton contacted Disney to see if they still owned the rights to the idea since he dreamt it up while under their employ. It turned out they did, but thanks to the considerable amount of luck he had been having with his previous films, a deal was struck to make the picture.

Michael McDowell, the screenwriter on “Beetlejuice,” was hired to adapt Burton’s three page poem into a script. (The poem featured only three characters, Jack, Zero and Santa, and was written with Vincent Price in mind to narrate, like an expanded version of “Vincent.”) When McDowell’s attempts at the adaption didn’t work out Burton and long time collaborator Danny Elfman (who scored Burton’s first feature film “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure” and would continue to score his films with the exception of 1994’s “Ed Wood”) decided to attack the film from a musical view first, writing the score and songs, then hire Caroline Thompson, (who wrote “Edward Scissorhands”), to incorporate the songs into a screenplay.

Due to a commitment to direct “Batman Returns” for Waner Bros., as well as the amount of time needed to direct a film of this sort, Burton passed on the directing duties to fellow Disney animator Henry Selick (who would later go on to direct “James and the Giant Peach” for Touchstone Pictures in 1996 which Burton executive produced, and which had a cameo of Jack Skellington as a pirate as well as a skeletal Donald Duck).

Danny Elfman not only scored the film, but also provided the singing voice for Jack Skellington, as well as voices for the Clown with the tear away face and Barrel, one of Oogie Boogie’s mischievous henchmen. Rounding out the cast was Chris Sarandon as Jack’s speaking voice, Catherine O’Hara (“Beetlejuice”) as Sally and Shock (another of Oogie’s henchmen), Glenn Shadix (“Beetlejuice”) as the Mayor, Paul Reubens as Lock (Oogie’s other henchmen), William Hickey as Dr. Finklestein, Ken Page as Oogie Boogie (who’s song “Oogie Boogie’s Song” was inspired by Cab Calloway’s work in the old “Betty Boop” cartoons), and Ed Ivory as Santa.

The film was given a budget of $18 million and set to work in July of 1991. Due to the lenghty amount of time needed to make a film of this sort the crew would finish a minutes worth of film a week and would spend three years animating the film before finishing. “The Nightmare Before Christmas” was released in select theatres in New York City on October 13, 1993, and received its general release on October 22, 1993, and made $51 million at the box office.

Though “The Nightmare Before Christmas” more than made back its budget the film, strangely enough, was thought to be too dark for kids. In terms of risks it is without a doubt one of Disney’s most ambitious animated films (right up there with “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” and “Toy Story”). It is also one that seemed to be the least appreciated by studio head and some hard to please audience members who didn’t seem to quite understand the film.

The film seemed to have come from out of left field, last a few weeks, then disappear, leaving viewers to wonder exactly what it was they had just seen. So too can be said for the merchandise which, one minute, filled the shelves of Disney stores and toy stores, then in the next, in the words of the Clown with the tear away face, were, “here in a flash and gone without a trace”.

But despite all that “The Nightmare Before Christmas” earned itself a dedicated and cult following, and as the years went by, “Nightmare” has been making a well deserved and welcomed come back. More and more merchandise has been made available both here and in Japan (where a collectible book titled “Tim Burton’s ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’ Goods Book” was released and covers a vast majority of items released both over seas and state side), the original items released for the film are constantly sought after, and of course there’s the Haunted Mansion Holiday in Disneyland that keeps bringing fans back year after year.

Of all the wonders that have gone into the making of this holiday story, from its humble creations as a poem to its technical wonders as an animated film, perhaps one of the most amazing things of all is its fan base. People just love all aspects of it. As to why this is one can only guess, but the dedication, passion and obsession fans show for it are as strong as Jack’s are for Christmas.

Perhaps the creation of this story, much like its ever growing fan base, was meant to be like a fine wine and age and mature with time. Who can say. All I know is that with each passing year this film finds a deep and meaningful place in viewers hearts and is well on its way to becoming a holiday classic.

Or, perhaps it’s much simpler than that. If I may paraphrase a lyric from the finale of “The Nightmare Before Christmas” soundtrack:

For as plain as anyone can see
“The Nightmare Before Christmas” and its fans are simply meant to be.

If you still don’t own a copy of “The Nightmare Before Christmas”

DVD, then why not pick up the Special Edition and help support

in the process? By clicking the link to the right, you can purchase this

fabulous DVD from for you or for a frightfully fun Xmas present!

Your cost will (unfortunately) remain the same (though it is currently

30% off!) But – if you go there through us – we get a tiny cut of

what you spend. So if you’re planning on picking up the book, help keep

Jim Hill behind the computer where he belongs and order a copy of “The

Nightmare Before Christmas” Special Edition DVD through the link

to the right.

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Jim Hill is an entertainment writer who has specialized in covering The Walt Disney Company for nearly 40 years now. Over that time, he has interviewed hundreds of animators, actors, and Imagineers -- many of whom have shared behind-the-scenes stories with Mr. Hill about how the Mouse House really works. In addition to the 4000+ articles Jim has written for the Web, he also co-hosts a trio of popular podcasts: “Disney Dish with Len Testa,” “Fine Tooning with Drew Taylor” and “Marvel US Disney with Aaron Adams.” Mr. Hill makes his home in Southern New Hampshire with his lovely wife Nancy and two obnoxious cats, Ginger & Betty.

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Jens Dahlmann of LongHorn Steakhouse has lots of great tips when it comes to grilling



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Sure, for some folks, the Fourth of July is all about fireworks. But for the 75% of all Americans who own a grill or a smoker, the Fourth is our Nation’s No. 1 holiday when it comes to grilling. Which is why 3 out of 4 of those folks will spend some time outside today working over a fire.

But here’s the thing: Though 14 million Americans can cook a steak with confidence because they actually grill something every week, the rest of us – because we use our grill or smoker so infrequently … Well, let’s just say that we have no chops when it comes to dealing with chops (pork, veal or otherwise).

So what’s a backyard chef supposed to in a situation like this when there’s so much at steak … er … stake? Turn to someone who really knows their way around a grill for advice. People like Jens Dahlmann, the Vice President and Corporate Executive Chef for Darden Restaurant’s LongHorn Steakhouse brand.

Given that Jens’ father & grandfather were chefs, this is a guy who literally grew up in a kitchen. In his teens & twenties, Dahlmann worked in hotels & restaurants all over Switzerland & Germany. Once he was classically trained in the culinary arts, Jens then  jumped ship. Well, started working on cruise ships, I mean.

Anyway … While working on Cunard’s Sea Goddess, Dahlmann met Sirio Maccioni, the founder of Le Cirque 2000. Sirio was so impressed with Jens’ skills in the kitchen that he offered him the opportunity to become sous-chef at this New York landmark. After four years of working in Manhattan, Dahlmann then headed south to become executive chef at Palm Beach’s prestigious Café L’Europe.

Jens Dahlmann back during his Disney World days

And once Jens began wowing foodies in Florida, it wasn’t all that long ’til the Mouse came a-calling. Mickey wanted Dahlmann to shake things up in the kitchen over at WDW’s Flying Fish Café. And he did such a good job with that Disney’s Boardwalk eatery the next thing Jens knew, he was then being asked to work his magic with the menu at the Contemporary Resort’s California Grill.

From there, Dahlmann had a relatively meteoric rise at the Mouse House. Once he became Epcot’s Food & Beverage general manager, it was only a matter of time before he wound up as the executive chef in charge of this theme park’s annual International Food & Wine Festival. Which – under Jens’ guidance – experienced some truly explosive growth.

“When I took on Food & Wine, that festival was only 35 days long and had gross revenues of just $5.5 million. When I left Disney in 2016, Food & Wine was now over 50 days long and that festival had gross revenues of $22 million,” Dahlmann admitted during a recent sit-down. “I honestly loved those 13 years I spent at Disney. When I was working there, I learned so much because I was really cooking for America.”

And it was exactly that sort of experience & expertise that Darden wanted to tap into when they lured Jens away from Mickey last year to become LongHorn Steakhouse’s new Vice President and Corporate Executive Chef. But today … Well, Dahlmann is offering tips to those of us who are thinking about cooking steak tips for the Fourth.

Photo by Jim Hill

“When you’re planning on grilling this holiday, if you’re looking for a successful result, the obvious place to start is with the quality of the meat you plan on cooking for your friends & family. If you want the best results here, don’t be cheap when you go shopping. Spend the money necessary for a fresh filet or a New York strip. Better yet a Ribeye, a nice thick one with good marbling. Because when you look at the marbling on a steak, that’s where all the flavor happens,” Jens explained. “That said, you always have to remember that — the higher you go with the quality of your meat — the less time you’re going to want that piece of meat to spend on the grill.”

And speaking of cooking … Before you even get started here, Jens suggests that you first take the time to check over all of your grilling equipment. Making sure that the grill itself is first scraped clean & then properly oiled before you then turn up the heat.

“If you’re working with a dirty grill, when you go to turn your meat, it may wind up sticking to the grill. Or maybe those spices that you’ve just so carefully coated your steak with will wind up sticking to the grill, rather than your meat,” Dahlmann continued. “Which is why it’s always worth it to spend a few minutes prior to firing up your grill properly cleaning & oiling it.”

Photo by Jim Hill

And speaking of heat … Again, before you officially get started grilling here, Jens says that it’s crucial to check your temperature gauges. Make sure that your char grill is set at 550 (so that it can then properly handle the thicker cuts of meat) and your flattop is set at 425 (so it can properly sear thinner pieces of meat).

Okay. Once you’ve bought the right cuts of quality meat, properly cleaned & oiled your grill, and then made sure that everything’s set at the right temperature (“If you can only stand to hold your hand directly over the grill for two or three seconds, that’s the right amount of heat,” Dahlmann said), it’s now time to season your steaks.

“Don’t be afraid to be bold here. You can’t be shy when it comes to seasoning your meat. You want to give it a nice coating. Largely because — if you’re using a char grill — a lot of that seasoning is just going to fall off anyway,” Jens stated. “It’s up to you to decide what sort of seasoning you want to use here. Even just some salt & pepper will enhance a steak’s flavor.”

Then – according to Dahlmann – comes the really tough part. Which is placing your meat on the grill and then fighting the urge to flip it too early or too often.

“The biggest mistake that a lot of amateur cooks make is that they flip the steak too many times. The real key to a well-cooked piece of meat is just let it be, “Jens insisted. “Of course, if you’re serving different cuts of meat at your Fourth of July feast, you always want to put your biggest thickest steak on the grill first. If you’re also cooking a New York Strip, you want to put that one on a few minutes later. But after that, just let the grill do its job and flip your meat a total of three or four times, once every three minutes or so.”

Of course, the last thing you want to do is overcook a quality piece of meat. Which is why Dahlmann suggests that – when it comes to grilling steaks – if you’re going to err, err on the side of undercooking.

“You can always put a piece of meat back on the grill if it’s slightly undercooked. When you over-cook something, all you can do then is start over with a brand-new piece of meat,” Jens said. “Just be sure that you’re using the correct cut of meat for the cooking result you’re aiming for. If someone wants a rare or medium rare steak, you should go with a thicker cut of steak. If one of your guests wants their steak cooked medium or well, it’s best to start with a thinner cut of meat.”

Photo by Jim Hill

As you can see, the folks at Longhorn take grilling steaks seriously. How seriously? Just last week at Darden Corporate Headquarters in Orlando, seven of these brand’s top grill masters (who – after weeks of regional competitions – had been culled from the 491 restaurants that make up this chain) competed for a $10,000 prize in the Company’s second annual Steak Master Series. And Dahlmann was one of the people who stood in Darden’s test kitchens, watching like a hawk as each of the contestants struggled to prepare six different dishes in just 20 minutes according to Longhorn Steakhouse’s exacting standards.

“I love that Darden does this. Recognizing the best of the best who work this restaurant,” Jens concluded. “We have a lot of people here who are incredibly knowledgeable & passionate when it comes to grilling.”

Speaking of which … If today’s story doesn’t include the exact piece of info that you need to properly grill that T-bone, just whip out your iPhone & text GRILL to 55702. Or – better yet – visit prior to firing up your grill or smoker later today. 

This article was originally published by the Huffington Post on Tuesday, July 4, 2017

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Brattleboro’s Strolling of the Heifers is a sincere if somewhat surreal way to spend a summer’s day in Vermont



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Some people travel halfway ‘around the planet so that they can then experience the excitement of the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona. If you’re more of a Slow Living enthusiast (as I am), then perhaps you should amble to Brattleboro, VT. Where – over the first weekend in June – you can then join a herd of cow enthusiasts at the annual Strolling of the Heifers.

Now in its 16th year, this three-day long event typically gets underway on Friday night in June with a combination block party / gallery walk. But then – come Saturday morning – Main Street in Brattleboro is lined with thousands of bovine fans.

Photo by Jim Hill

They’ve staked out primo viewing spots and set up camp chairs hours ahead of time. Just so these folks can then have a front row seat as this year’s crop of calves (which all come from local farms & 4-H clubs) are paraded through the streets.

Photo by Jim Hill

Viewed from curbside, Strolling of the Heifers is kind of this weird melding of a sincere small town celebration and Pasadena’s Doo Dah Parade. Meaning that – for every entry that actually acknowledged this year’s theme (i.e. “Dance to the Moosic”) — …

Photo by Jim Hill

… there was something completely random, like this parade’s synchronized shopping cart unit.

Photo by Jim Hill

And for every piece of authentic Americana (EX: That collection of antique John Deere tractors that came chugging through the city) …

Photo by Jim Hill

… there was something silly. Like – say – a woman dressed as a Holstein pushing a baby stroller through the streets. And riding in that stroller was a pig dressed in a tutu.

Photo by Jim Hill

And given that this event was being staged in the Green Mountain State & all … Well, does it really surprise you to learn that — among the groups that marched in this year’s Strolling of the Heifers – was a group of eco-friendly folks who, with their  chants of “We’re Number One !,” tried to persuade people along the parade route not to flush the toilet after they pee. Because – as it turns out – urine can be turned into fertilizer.

Photo by Jim Hill

And speaking of fertilizer … At the tail end of the parade, there was a group of dedicated volunteers who were dealing with what came out of the tail end of all those cows.

Photo by Jim Hill

This year’s Strolling of the Heifers concluded at the Brattleboro town common. Where event attendees could then get a closer look at some of the featured units in this year’s parade…

Photo by Jim Hill

… or perhaps even pet a few of the participants.

Photo by Jim Hill

But as for the 90+ calves who took part in the 2017 edition of Strolling of the Heifers, once they reached the town common, it was now time for a nosh or a nap.

Photo by Jim Hill

Elsewhere on the common, keeping with this year’s “Dance to the Moosic” theme, various musical groups performed in & around the gazebo throughout the afternoon.

Photo by Jim Hill

While just across the way – keeping with Brattleboro’s tradition of showcasing the various artisans who live & work in the local community – some pretty funky pieces were on display at the Slow Living Exposition.

Photo by Jim Hill

All in all, attending Strolling of the Heifers is a somewhat surreal but still very pleasant way to spend a summer’s day in Vermont. And that’s no bull.

Photo by Jim Hill

Well, that could be a bull. To be honest, what with the wig & all, it’s kind of hard to tell. 

This article was originally published by the Huffington Post on Sunday, June 4, 2017

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Looking to make an authentic Irish meal for Saint Patrick’s Day? If so, then chef Kevin Dundon says not to cook corned beef & cabbage



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Let’s at least start on a positive note: Celebrated chef, author & TV personality Kevin Dundon – the man that Tourism Ireland has repeatedly chosen as the Face of Irish Food – loves a lot of what happens in the United States on March 17th.

“I mean, look at what they do in Chicago on Saint Patrick’s Day. They toss all of this vegetable-based dye into the Chicago River and then paint it green for a day. That’s terrific,” Kevin said.

But then when it comes to what many Americans eat & drink on St. Paddy’s Day (i.e., a big plate of corned beef and cabbage. Which is then washed down with a mug of green beer) … Well, that’s where Dundon has to draw the line.

Irish celebrity chef Kevin Dundon displays a traditional Irish loin of bacon with Colcannon potatoes and a Dunbrody Kiss chocolate dessert. Photo by Tom Burton. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

“Green beer? No real Irishman would be caught dead drinking that stuff,” Kevin insists. “And as for eating corned beef & cabbage … That’s not actually authentic Irish fare either. Bacon and cabbage? Sure. But corned beef & cabbage was something that the Irish only began eating after they’d come to the States to escape the Famine. And even then these Irish-Americans only began serving corned beef & cabbage to their friends & family because they had to make do with the ingredients that were available to them at that time.”

And thus begins the strange tale of how corned beef & cabbage came to be associated with the North American celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day celebration. Because – according to Dundon – beef just wasn’t all that big a part of the Irish diet back in the 19th century.

To explain: Back in the Old Country, cattle – while they were obviously highly prized for the milk & cheese that they produced – were also beasts of burden. Meaning that they were often used for ploughing the fields or for hauling heavy loads. Which is why – back then — these animals were rarely slaughtered when they were still young & healthy. If anything, land owners liked to put a herd of cattle on display out in one of their pastures because that was then a sign to their neighbors that this farm was prosperous.

“Whereas pork … Well, everybody raised pigs back then. Which is why pork was a staple of the Irish diet rather than beef,” Dundon continued.

So if that’s what people actually ate back in the Old Country, how then did corned beef & cabbage come to be so strongly associated with Saint Patrick’s Day in the States.? That largely had to do with where the Irish wound up living after they arrived in the New World.

“When the Irish first arrived in America following the Great Famine, a lot of them wound up living in the inner city right alongside the Germans & the Jews, who were also recent immigrants to the States. And while that farm-fresh pork that the Irish loved wasn’t readily available, there was brisket. Which the Irish could then cure by first covering this piece of meat with corn kernel-sized pieces of rock salt – that’s how it came to be called corned beef. Because of the sizes of the pieces of rock salt that were used in the curing process – and then placing all that in a pot of water with other spices to soak for a few days.”

And as for the cabbage portion of corned beef & cabbage … Well, according to Kevin, in addition to buying their meat from the kosher delis in their neighborhood, the Irish would also frequent the stores that the German community shopped in. Where – thanks to their love of sauerkraut (i.e., pickled cabbage) – there was always a ready supply of cabbage to be had.

“So when you get right down to it, it was the American melting pot that led to corned beef & cabbage being found in the Irish-American cooking pot,” Dundon continued. “Since they couldn’t find or didn’t have easy access to the exact same ingredients that they had back in Ireland, Irish-Americans made do with what they could find in the immediate vicinity. And what they made was admittedly tasty. But it’s not actually authentic Irish fare.”

Mind you, what Kevin serves at Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant at Disney Springs (which – FYI – Orlando Magazine voted as the area’s best restaurant back in 2014) is nothing if not authentic. Dundon and his team at this acclaimed gastropub pride themselves on making traditional Irish fare and then contemporized it.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

“Take – for example – what we serve here instead of corned beef & cabbage. Again, because it was pork – rather than beef – that was the true staple of the Irish diet back then, what we offer instead is a loin of bacon that has been glazed with Irish Mist. That then comes with colcannon potatoes. Which is this traditional Irish dish that’s made up of mashed potato that have had some cabbage & bacon mixed through it,” Kevin enthused. “This heavenly ham – that’s what we actually call this traditional Irish dish at Raglan Road, Kevin’s Heavenly Ham – also includes some savory cabbage with a parsley cream sauce as well as a raisin cider jus. It’s simple food. But because of the basic ingredients – and that’s the real secret of Irish cuisine. That our ingredients are so strong – the flavors just pop off the plate.”

Which brings us to the real challenge that Dundon and the Raglan Road team face every day. Making sure that they actually have all of the ingredients necessary to make this traditional-yet-contemporized Irish fare to those folks who frequent this Walt Disney World favorite.

“Take – for example – the fish we serve here. We only used cold water fish. Salmon, mussels and haddock that have been hauled out of the Atlantic, the ocean that America and Ireland share,” Kevin stated. “Not that there’s anything wrong with warm water fish. It’s just that … Well, it doesn’t have the same structure. It’s a softer fish, which doesn’t really fit the parameters of Irish cuisine. And if you’re going to serve authentic food, you have to be this dedicated when it comes to sourcing your ingredients.

Copyright Mitchell Beazley. All rights reserved

And if you’re thinking of perhaps trying to serve an authentic Irish meal this year, rather than once again serving corned beef & cabbage at your Saint Patrick’s Day Feast … Well, back in September of last year, Mitchell Beazley published “The Raglan Road Cookbook: Inside America’s Favorite Irish Pub.” This 296-page hardcover not only includes the recipe for Kevin’s Heavenly Ham but also it tells the tale of how this now-world-renown restaurant wound up being built in Orlando.

On the other hand, if you happen to have to the luck of the Irish and are actually down at The Walt Disney World Resort right now, it’s worth noting that Raglan Road is right in the middle of its Mighty St. Patrick’s Day Festival. This four day-long event – which includes Irish bands and professional dancers – stretches through Sunday night. And in addition to all that authentic Irish fare that Dundon and his team are cooking up, you also sample the fine selection of beers & cocktails that this establishment’s four distinct antique bars (each of which are more than 130 years old and were imported directly from Ireland) will be serving. Just – As ucht Dé (That’s “For God’s Sake” in Gaelic) – don’t make the mistake of asking the bartender there for a mug of green beer.

“Why would anyone willingly drink something like that?,” Dundon laughed. “I mean, just imagine what their washroom will look like the morning after.”

This article was originally published by the Huffington Post on Friday, March 17, 2017

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